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DRE´PANUM or DRE´PANA (Τὸ Δρέπανον,, Ptol., Diod. 23.9, but τὰ Ρέπανα, Pol.; Steph. B. sub voce Dionys.; Diod. xxiv, &c., and this seems the best authenticated form: Eth. Drepanitanus: Trapani), a city of Sicily, with a promontory and port of the same name, at the NW. extremity of the island, immediately opposite to the Aegates. The city did not exist until a comparatively late period, but the port and promontory are mentioned in very early times: the latter evidently derived its name from the resemblance of its form to that of a sickle (δρεπάνη), whence late mythographers described it as the spot where the sickle of Cronus or Saturn was buried. (Serv. ad Aen. 3.707; Tzetz. ad Lycophr. 869.) The port was only a few miles from the foot of Mt. Eryx, and hence it is mentioned in connection with the Trojan legends that were attached to this part of Sicily. Virgil makes it the scene of the death of Anchises, and of the funeral games celebrated by Aeneas in his honour. (Verg. A. 3.707, 5.24, &c.; Dionys. A. R. 1.52; Serv. ad Aen. ll. cc.) But with this exception we find no mention of the name previous to the First Punic War: it probably served as a port to the neighbouring city of Eryx, and was a was one dependency of that place [ERYX]; but in the earlier part of the war just named (about B.C. 260) the Carthaginian general Hamilcar proceeded to fortify the promontory of Drepanum, and founded a town there, to which he transferred a great part of the inhabitants of Eryx. (Diod. 23.9, Exc. H. p. 503; Zonar. 8.11.) Hence the statement of Florus (2.2) and Aurelius Victor (de Viris Illustr. 39), both of whom mention Drepanum among the cities of Sicily taken by the dictator Atilius Calatinus at an earlier period of the war, must be erroneous. The result proved the wisdom of the choice; from the goodness of its harbour, and its proximity to Africa, Drepana became a place of great importance, and continued throughout the remainder of the war to be one of the chief strongholds of the Carthaginians. In B.C. 250, indeed, Drepana and Lilybaeum were the only two points in the island of which that people retained possession; and hence the utmost importance. was attached by them to their maintenance. (Pol. 1.41; Zonar. 8.16.) During the long protracted siege of Lilybaeum by the Romans, it was at Drepana that Adherbal established himself with the Carthaginian fleet, to watch the operations of the besiegers, and it was off this port that he totally defeated the Roman consul P. Claudius, and destroyed almost his whole fleet, B.C. 249. (Pol. 1.46, 49--51; Diod. 24.1, Exc. H. p. 507). Not long after this, when Hamilcar Barca made himself master of the city of Eryx, he removed all the remaining inhabitants from thence to Drepana, which he fortified as strongly as possible, and of which he retained possession till the end of the war. It was, however, in B.C. 242 besieged by the Roman consul Lutatius Catulus; and it was the attempt of the Carthaginians under Hanno to effect its relief, as well as that of the army under Hamilcar, that brought on their fatal defeat off the islands of the Aegates, B.C. 241. (Pol. 1.59, 60; Diod. 24.8, 11, Exc. H. p. 509; Zonar. 8.17; Liv. 28.41.)

From this time the name of Drepana appears no more in history, but it seems to have continued to be a flourishing commercial town, though apparently eclipsed by the superior prosperity of the neighbouring Lilybaeum, which throughout the Roman period was the most considerable city in this part of Sicily. Cicero and Pliny both mention it as a municipal town; and the Itineraries and Tabula prove that it still retained its name and consideration in the fourth century of the Christian era. (Cic. Ver. 4.17; Plin. Nat. 3.8. s. 14; Ptol. 3.4.4; Itin. Ant. pp. 91, 97; Tab. Peut.) The modern city of Trapani has succeeded to the ancient importance of Lilybaeum, and is now the most populous and flourishing city in the west of Sicily, as well as a strong fortress. Great part of its wealth is derived from the manufacture and export of coral, of which there are extensive fisheries on the coast: these are alluded to by Pliny as already existing in his time (32.2. s. 11). Some vestiges of the ancient mole are the only remains of antiquity which it presents; but the site is undoubtedly the same with that of the ancient city, upon a low sandy peninsula, which has been artificially converted into an island by the ditch of the modern fortifications. (Smyth's Sicily, pp. 237--241; Parthey, Wanderungen durch Sicilien, p. 75, &c.) Immediately off the harbour of Trapani is a small island called Colombara, which appears to have been known in ancient times also as Columbaria [p. 1.789]Insula. It is mentioned by Zonaras (8.161) under the name of Πελειὰς νῆσος.


hide References (5 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (5):
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 3.707
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 5.24
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 41
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.4
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